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Walk Behind Safety

The walk-behind mower category includes, push, self-propelled, battery powered, electric, and reel mowers. Most consumers use push, self-propelled, or battery mowers for their lawn care needs. Know the equipment being used before operating. Make sure anyone who operates the mower, reads, understands, and follows the warnings and instructions in the operator’s manual and on the equipment.

Safe Mowing Tips

The following additional lawn mower safety tips have been compiled in cooperation with Outdoor Power Equipment Industry safety and health experts.

  • Keep all safety devices (discharge chute, trail shield, safety interlocks, etc.) in place and working. If damaged, replace immediately. Never remove, bypass, or disable a safety device. Remember that the safety features were installed to reduce the risk of injury.
  • The blade control handle is a safety device. Never attempt to bypass its operation. Doing so makes this safety device inoperative and may result in personal injury through contact with the rotating blade. The blade control handle must operate freely in both directions and automatically return to the disengaged position when released.
  • Disengage blades when not mowing. Never cross gravel areas with the blades engaged. Avoid discharging material against a wall or obstruction which may cause discharged material to ricochet.
  • Clear the mowing area of foreign objects. Before starting, check lawn for foreign objects that may be picked up and thrown by the blade (i.e. sticks, stones, etc.). Thrown objects can cause personal injury or property damage.
  • When using a walk-behind mower, wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles to help prevent slipping, shirts and pants that cover the arms and legs, and safety glasses or safety goggles during each operation and/or maintenance. Never operate a mower in bare feet, canvas shoes, sandals, flip-flops, or Crocs™.
  • Do not put hands or feet near rotating parts or under the cutting deck of the mower. Contact with rotating blades can amputate fingers, hands, toes, and feet.
  • Slopes are a major factor related to slip and fall accidents which can result in severe injury.
    • If your lawn contains a slope, mow across the face of the slope with a walk-behind mower, never up and down.
    • Watch for holes, ruts, rocks, hidden objects, or bumps which can cause slips or trips and allow feet to enter the path of the rotating blade.
    • If the slope is greater than 15 degrees, DO NOT mow it. Use a string trimmer or consider an alternative to grass in these areas, such as growing ground cover.
  • Never pull a mower back toward the body while walking. To back the mower away from a wall or obstacle, first look down and behind to avoid tripping. Then step back from the mower to fully extend arms. Ensure good footing and balance. Pull the mower back slowly, no more than halfway toward the body. Repeat these steps as needed.
  • If lawnmower clogs, never use hands to clear the blockage, even if the mower is shut off. Always use a stick or other tool.
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Keep Kids Safe

Accidents can happen without warning, particularly if a child is allowed to operate a mower. Never allow children less than 14 years of age to operate a walk-behind mower. Children 14 years of age and over should read, understand and be able to follow the instructions and safe operation practices found in the operator’s manual. These young operators must be trained and supervised by an adult. Children should not be allowed in the yard or near the mower when it is in use. Keep children indoors and under the watchful supervision of an adult.

Remember, kids and mowers don’t mix!